(ORIGINAL POST DATE: 08/24/17)
I recently obtained my Bachelors from The University of Houston – Downtown, as of May 14, 2017, which was also the same day as Mothers Day this year. Pictured above is an article I was featured in, that someone sent to me. Clearly, my graduate cap turned so many heads! (Grad cap designed by @thegraydesigns)
This day solidified so much for me, being that it was Mothers Day and I received my degree that I had worked so hard for all in one day! Walking across the stage, was truly one of the most gratifying moments of my life. Even though it was not my first time “graduating,” it was my Bachelors and it meant so much to ME. I graduated high school in May 2008 and graduated from Lone Star College with my Associates, May 2013. I felt discouraged for taking so long to get my Bachelors, but as I got closer to finishing I would tell myself continuously, “Better Late Than NEVER,” and I stuck with that.
My journey has definitely been a rough, and LONG one. It has been stressful, fulfilling, depressing, life-changing, but truly an amazing experience in all. With how long it took, it has given me so much strength, and I learned so much about myself. I have had breaks in between to raise my daughter and had to retake classes due to failing courses when I was younger and immature. My child’s father passed away while I was taking my basics and I had to retake a few of those due to the stress of his loss. When I got my Associates in May 2013, my daughter was only six months old, and it had been a year since he had passed away when I received my Associates. I started out at Lone Star in August 2008 and transferred to The University of Houston – Main Campus, January 2010. I was only there for only two semesters before returning back to Lone Star. I learned that this school was not for me, it was extremely large, I lived on campus, but was not focusing on school, but working two jobs. Returning to Lone Star to finish my basic classes was probably one of the best decisions I made.
My last few classes I had retaken and passed with better grades than before. At the time, I was a “Pre-Nursing” major, and I just knew I was going to be a nurse one day. I took all the necessary steps to apply for nursing school. I took all the required pre-requisites, I studied day and night for the HESI entrance exam. I just knew when I graduated in May 2013, I was going straight to nursing school in August 2013, WRONG! I had to take the realization that I truly had no support as far as someone watching Nyla while I try to go to school AND work. Two, nursing school requires flexibility I did not have, so who was going to work, cause I had to pay bills! I made a decision at the point to no longer focus on school and work to get income because that was more important at the time. I then eventually decided that nursing was not for me, not because I would not get accepted but because of how I could not dedicate my time to going to school full time, being on their schedule, and not knowing how my work schedule would work with that. At the time I was only part-time at a bank, and I knew eventually I would be full time. I was working hard, meeting the daily goals, making sure I was exceeding all expectations to eventually become full time. I knew I did not want to be at the bank all my life, and that I wanted to go to nursing school, but I needed the money more than anything. So, for the time being, I worked extremely hard, as I do with any job I ever had. No matter if I was at work at a daycare, at a bank, a restaurant, a clothing store, or where I am now, I have always put my all into all previous jobs I worked at (which all listed I have worked for). After being at the bank for one year, I began to get frustrated with how hard I worked, the drama involved with other employees and I still was not hired on as a full-time employee.
I started to apply for better positions everywhere including an old job I worked at, Lone Star College, where I was once part-time for a few months while being pregnant with Nyla. October 2014, I got a full-time position, and I still currently hold this position. My new job offered better pay, better benefits, and I never have to fight over days off, and I also began to love what I did. The bank did not offer these same opportunities and while working there I honestly began to feel like I was only there to earn income. I was in such a rough patch but not severely, I just felt extremely stuck in my role and did not know what my next step was anymore. When I started at Lone Star, it wasn’t just a job to me anymore, I felt myself growing within Lone Star. I loved the fact that Lone Star encouraged education growth within the company and that is when I made yet another decision to return to school in Spring 2015. My job offers tuition waivers, so for Spring 2015 and Summer 2015, I took one class at a time. I applied for the University of Houston Downtown and started in Fall 2015. I began with only one class Spring 2015, then increased to two courses, then three, four and eventually five! I literally got my Bachelors degree within two years! I was so determined at this point, I knew what I wanted and knew I had to get it no matter what. People would always ask me how was I able to work full time, be a full-time mother and go to school full time. My response is that you have to do what you can handle and what works for you. It is that simple. I have no secret and I had to find a way to balance it all. There is no time frame on how long it will take, it’s all depending on you and what YOU CAN HANDLE. I learned I cannot base MY success and struggles off of others.
Despite all the struggles, I have always been one to have a plan and I have stuck by it. When I returned to get my Bachelors, I accepted nothing less than A’s for my grades and if I got anything else I would be upset. With my grades I earned each semester, I was able to make the deans/presidents list countless amounts of times, and was inducted into the Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society December 2016. That was truly another great accomplishment for me, my ultimate goal was to graduate with Latin Honors, but since UHD calculates all transfer hours in and averages it with your UHD hours, it placed me right below the requirement to graduate Cum Laude. I cried about it, but got over it, the bigger picture was that I was GRADUATING! I graduated with my Lambda Pi Eta Honors cord and that was fine by me! When something does not go as planned for me, I become discouraged, upset, and a little passive. I eventually shake it off and turn that into my passion to go harder. This is something I have always struggled with because I am a planner, and the thing about a planner is we PLAN to stick to the PLAN, and nothing else. I should be using things not going as planned, and as much as they do not, I still become upset. There have been several roadblocks with getting my degree, but I did not allow any of it to stop me. My last semester was a struggle, and the MOST stressful. My last semester contained classes I pushed off until the last minute because they were not online and the timing was inconvenient. I had to make arrangements with my manager to allow me to leave work early on these days and bring Nyla to school with me at the daycare facility that was on campus. I made it happen, I did not let any misfortunes stop me. No matter if it was raining, if I got a flat tire, if I had no babysitter, I still went to class, I still completed assignments and went harder. I took a Training and Development course, which is equivalent to a graduate school course, and this class was probably the most difficult of my college career. I am grateful for this course, it helped me so much with not just the material learned, but teaching my dedication and determination. I brought Nyla with me every Saturday meeting I had with my classmates, I never asked anyone to watch her. She is my responsibility, and I never feel the need to depend on anyone else. My classmates were so supportive and it helped me with overcoming this course.
I took a two-year break before returning back and getting my Bachelors, and I already knew before I graduated I was going to graduate school Fall 2017, WRONG AGAIN! I knew what school I wanted to go to, I knew what program I wanted to attempt, how long it would take, and all the items I needed to apply for graduate school. I began the process in March I submitting everything early, except for my final transcript. I continuously got emails about submitting my application before June 15th which was the priority deadline and a final deadline of August 1st. I was unable to submit before June 15th due to me having a hold with UHD. There was a daycare on campus I would take Nyla to 2-3 times a week. I ended up having a balance once the semester was over and was not able to pay it until July. Even though it was fairly small, it delayed my transcript from being released. I finally paid the balance and sent my transcript to the graduate school I applied for and waited until recently for a decision. I knew since I did not apply before June 15th, I would not be reviewed with those students. Of course, since I have a plan and I am a planner, I knew automatically, I would be accepted. I mean it was obvious, right? I have a GPA of 3.40 from UHD, I just earned my Bachelors, my GRE was waived because of my high GPA and I am already working in the field I am applying for, my personal statement outlined my goals and what I have overcome, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and my passion poured through my statement. I was told my application wouldn’t be reviewed until after August 1st on the last review of applicants, but I was confident. I received a scholarship through my job to assist with graduate school, so I already had my Fall 2017 semester planned out. Well, recently I got an email indicating due to a lot of applicants, the decision was made that I was not accepted into the program and that my personal statement needed to outline my goals more. WHAT? I gave so much of myself, my trials, my tribulations, my ups, my downs, my highs, my lows, my goals, and why I have them. I did not understand, I cried, as I always do when something does not go right, but after talking to my close friends, all of them said the exact same thing. “BRITTANI, this is a sign that you need to SLOW DOWN.” Slow down? For what? I do not even know what that means. Then I thought about it, Nyla just started Kindergarten, I recently just picked up a part-time job, until I am able to find a better paying job within my company, I have other plans outside of work and school I am working on getting off the ground, I need to catch up on bills and other things. Why not slow down? That is the only way I could come to terms with accepting I would not be going right now. At first, I was like “My GPA was a 3.40, why would they not choose me,” when in fact, it has nothing to do with that. My supervisor put it to me this way, I am basically in the waiting room, and while I am in the waiting room, I can focus on other things, once my name is called I will be better “prepared”. While I am in the waiting room, I can get other things together, I can relax, I can go on vacation, I can watch television, I can even sleep! These are things I have not done in so long time. While I am in the waiting room, I can reflect on why this was not for me right now, and understand what God was protecting me from. I understand now, I really do. Lord knows graduate school is a different ball game, and just because I was able to manage 4-5 classes while working full time and being a full-time mother, but the graduate school requires so much more of myself that I possibly cannot give due to all of the new unforeseen circumstances I have been faced with.
I shared my story of being rejected from graduate school because people continuously tell me I inspire them. I feel that people see me as “perfect” and I do not want to be viewed that way. I have gotten so much support, and also so much hatefulness despised as love as well. I want people to know whether you support me or not, that I am not perfect. I work hard, and I have so much I have wanted to do, but it was not my time yet. So when people tell me, I inspired them, I want them to understand I have struggled and still do struggle. I am a planner, and I have come to terms that yes I can plan, but be prepared for any roadblocks, they are there to build character and strength. I want to be very transparent and show I am not perfect, no matter how much others may perceive me to be. I also want to share that, everything does not happen when you want, I CAN NOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. So yes I did graduate within two years, but everything happens when it is supposed to. No matter how much you have it planned out, be prepared to have a plan a, b, c, d, and so forth.
The world is yours, you just have to go get it! But be prepared for there to be obstacles, it is only there to build your strength and allowing the outcome to be even more rewarding.
(Photos captured by @capturedbysheneria)